The Town of Saugeen Shores hosted a reception for outgoing Mayor, Mike Smith, who is only days away from retirement.
After serving in public office for some 27 years, Smith decided it was time to retire and, therefore, is not running in the upcoming 2018 election.
“It’s time to do other things,” said Smith, “and I want to spend more time with my family and grandchildren.”
CAO, David Smith, who emceed the evening thanked Smith for his leadership, commitment and genuine desire to support staff to make our community even better.
Minister of Education and MPP for Huron Bruce, Lisa Thompson, said that Smith is always calm, cool and collected when addressing municipal issues. “I have learned from him that a demeanor sticks with a person when you see an individual navigate tough waters all the while sharing a vision and a calmness that makes everybody want to get on-side. I also want to thank his family for sharing him. Saugeen Shores is an amazing place to work in and call home because of what Mike has done through the decades.”
MP Ben Lobb also attended the reception and thanked Smith for his work at both the municipal and country levels. “Bruce County Council is one of the most effective in Ontario and is a shining example of a rural council. The municipality of Saugeen Shores is going through a tremendous ‘up’ and through the years there has been a steady hand at the wheel and, now, there is tremendous growth and opportunity. You have to have people on Council who are practical, reasonable, down to earth and who make good decisions for everybody and Mayor Smith has done that time and time again. I also think the young man, Luke Charbonneau, who will fill the position of Mayor will do a great job and I’m sure it’s a relief to Mike that he is turning it over to someone like Luke.” Lobb then presented Mayor Smith with a certificate in appreciation of his many years of service.
Town Clerk, Linda White, has worked with Mayor Smith for some 24 years and shared his political history with the audience. “Mike began his career in 1985 and has served the community for 27 years – nine years as Municipal Councilor, six years as Deputy Mayor and 12 years as Mayor. In that time, he was also County Warden for two terms and sits on many boards and committees. He announced his retirement on May 14th and it took many people by surprise, myself included.”
Both White and Smith began their political careers in the Township of Saugeen and over the last 12 years have been Mayor and Clerk. “I have learned so much from Mayor Smith. He leads by example, has a wealth of knowledge and has so many contacts at all levels of government and throughout various industries.” White said that as Mayor and Clerk they have seen a lot of changes and over the years they have signed over 1,200 By-laws and hundreds of sets of minutes. “There were a lot of decisions that the Mayor lead us through and by no means were they all easy ones.”
Mayor Smith comes by his political aspirations honestly. His father, Ray, was the Clerk of Southampton and highly respected in his field and, like his son, was calm and quiet who never raised his voice.
White said that Ray and his son, Mike, and his family, have helped shape the community to what it is today. “Behind every good man is a good woman and Mayor Smith is an example. His wife, Donna, has been a big part of the Mayor’s political life.” According to White, the Mayor has taken everything in stride with the exception of ‘land-use planning’. “Our Mayor is passionate about developing the community in a way that makes sense and takes place with less red tape.”
“From a staff perspective over the last three terms of council,”said White, “what I have observed from every Council member can only be described in one word – respect … respect for the Mayor’s leadership, his knowledge, experience, his deep loyalty to his community and his Council, his ability to negotiate and mediate, to represent the community at local, County, Provincial and even International levels all while being extremely humble, fair and kind. He is truly special and one-of-a-kind. He has always given credit to staff, whether Municipal or County and always gives credit for staff efforts. He has provided guidance, has listened, has helped through difficult times and has never told staff what to do, has never asked for a favour from staff and, not once, has staff ever doubted his support. All staff hold him in the highest esteem and respect. His leadership and personality has helped shape the culture of the municipal office. ”
Smith is very much a family man with three daughters, Crystal, Becky and Sarah, and his grandchildren Lexi and Dax.
“What I’ve learned over the years is that you have some ideas you want to develop, you talk them over and then it’s the cooperation you get from staff who make us all look good. You also miss a lot of family events and, after awhile, you realize there are things in life other than being on Council, but you do it for good reasons. I really believe, and I say it everywhere I go, this is the best community in southwestern Ontario. I think we are poised to see this community provide all kinds of opportunities for people and it’s not all about Bruce Power, as we are building diversity for young people. I also know that Luke (Charbonneau) will do a great job as Mayor.”